George Papadopoulos gets 14 days in Mueller probe: ‘I made a terrible mistake’
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WASHINGTON – A federal judge handed Chicagoan George Papadopoulos, a former Trump foreign policy campaign adviser, a 14-day prison sentence on Friday for lying to FBI agents working on Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
“I made a terrible mistake for which I paid dearly and am terribly ashamed,” Papadopoulos told U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss in pleading for leniency.
Papadopoulos, a North Side resident, becomes the first person associated with the Trump campaign sentenced in Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.
Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his contacts during the campaign with Russian and Russian operatives. In London, a professor, Joseph Mifsud — identified as a Russian intermediary — told him Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton and her emails.
Papadopoulos told the judge he “may have hindered” the probe — a point of dispute between the prosecutors and Papadopoulos defense team — and “I hope to have a second chance to redeem myself.”
FBI agents appeared at the Lincoln Square home Papadopoulos’ shared with his mother on Jan. 27, 2017, a week after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
He voluntarily went with the agents — without a lawyer — to an FBI field office on Roosevelt Road in Chicago. The charges against him stem from that interview.
Papadopoulos’ Chicago-based attorney, Thomas Breen, told Moss his client had made a “stupid mistake,” but “the president of the United States hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos did.”
Breen told Moss that Trump calling the Russian probe “fake news” and a “witchhunt” from the start influenced his client.
After the sentencing Breen told reporters that because of Trump’s comments, “when George went in on January 27 he was of the mindset, this (Russia probe) was not as significant as we have now all learned it to be.”
In addition to the 14 days, Moss sentenced Papadopoulos to: 12 months of supervised release; 200 hours of community service; a $9,500 fine; and a $100 court assessment.
Moss said Papadopoulos, angling for a Trump White House job, lied out of “calculated self-interest,” putting “his own personal ambition over the United States.”
Media blitz: Papadopoulos has been making the national media rounds in connection with his sentencing in a bid to redeem his reputation.
Chicago family: Papadopoulos, 31, was raised in Lincolnwood; he graduated from Niles West High School and DePaul University.
Chicago family in the courtroom included: his parents, who are divorced; an aunt; and Papadopoulos’ wife, Simona.
Move to Los Angeles?: The couple married in Chicago’s City Hall while the criminal case was unfolding and Simona, who has said she is Italian, has gained a national profile in televised interviews making pleas on her husband’s behalf – including for clemency from President Donald Trump.
Moss granted permission for Papadopoulos to travel outside of the Chicago area – to New York and California.
Breen said Papadopoulos had press interviews in New York with the couple considering moving to Los Angeles.
Trump reaction: Trump’s campaign tapped Papadopoulos to be on its foreign policy advisory panel.
After the sentencing, Trump said in a Tweet, “14 days for $28 MILLION – $2 MILLION a day, No Collusion. A great day for America!”
Financial records posted by Mueller on the Justice Department web site put the tab at about $7.7 million as of March 31.
More on Clinton emails: A major question has been if Papadopoulos told anyone in the Trump campaign the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton.
Breen told reporters: “To his knowledge he does not recall doing that. And if he did, he does not recall who it would be that he had told that to. “
Should have listened to mom: Papadopoulos’s mother, Kiki, was with her sister, Maria Stamatopoulos, a Skokie resident.
She told reporters after the sentencing that when the FBI agents came to their home, she screamed at her son not to go with them for an interview.
“And he runs out without a lawyer. … So everybody said ‘if you only listened to mom,’ I’m just saying, none of this would have happened.”
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